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Chapter 2

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘When that night passed away and day broke in, thoseBrahmamas who supported themselves by mendicancy, stood before thePandavas of exalted deeds, who were about to enter the forest.

Then kingYudhishthira, the son of Kunti, addressed them, saying, “Robbed of ourprosperity and kingdom, robbed of everything, we are about to enter thedeep woods in sorrow, depending for our food on fruits and roots, and theproduce of the chase. The forest too is full of dangers, and abounds withreptiles and beasts of prey. It appeareth to me that ye will certainlyhave to suffer much privation and misery there. The sufferings of theBrahmanas might overpower even the gods. That they would overwhelm me istoo certain. Therefore, O Brahmana, go ye back whithersoever ye list!’

“The Brahmanas replied, ‘O king, our path is even that on which ye arefor setting out! It behoveth thee not, therefore, to forsake us who arethy devoted admirers practising the true religion! The very gods havecompassion upon their worshippers,–specially upon Brahmanas of regulatedlives!’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘We regenerate ones, I too am devoted to theBrahmanas! But this destitution that hath overtaken me overwhelmed mewith confusion! These my brothers that are to procure fruits and rootsand the deer (of the forest) are stupefied with grief arising from theirafflictions and on account of the distress of Draupadi and the loss ofour kingdom! Alas, as they are distressed, I cannot employ them inpainful tasks!’

“The Brahmanas said, ‘Let no anxiety, O king, in respect of ourmaintenance, find a place in thy heart! Ourselves providing our own food,we shall follow thee, and by meditation and saying our prayers we shallcompass thy welfare while by pleasant converse we shall entertain theeand be cheered ourselves.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Without doubt, it must be as ye say, for I am everpleased with the company of the regenerate ones! But my fallen conditionmaketh me behold in myself an object of reproach! How shall I behold youall, that do not deserve to bear trouble, out of love for me painfullysubsisting upon food procured by your own toil? Oh, fie upon the wickedsons of Dhritarashtra!’

“Vaisampayana continued. ‘Saying this, the weeping king sat himself downupon the ground. Then a learned Brahmana, Saunaka by name versed inself-knowledge and skilled in the Sankhya system of yoga, addressed theking, saying, ‘Causes of grief by thousands, and causes of fear byhundreds, day after day, overwhelm the ignorant but not the wise. Surely,sensible men like thee never suffer themselves to be deluded by acts thatare opposed to true knowledge, fraught with every kind of evil, anddestructive of salvation. O king, in thee dwelleth that understandingfurnished with the eight attributes which is said to be capable ofproviding against all evils and which resulteth from a study of the Sruti(Vedas) and scriptures! And men like unto thee are never stupefied, onthe accession of poverty or an affliction overtaking their friends,through bodily or mental uneasiness! Listen, I shall tell the slokaswhich were chanted of old by the illustrious Janaka touching the subjectof controlling the self! This world is afflicted with both bodily andmental suffering. Listen now to the means of allaying it as I indicatethem both briefly and in detail. Disease, contact with painful things,toil and want of objects desired.–these are the four causes that inducebodily suffering. And as regards disease, it may be allayed by theapplication of medicine, while mental ailments are cured by seeking toforget them yoga-meditation. For this reason, sensible physicians firstseek to allay the mental sufferings of their patients by agreeableconverse and the offer of desirable objects And as a hot iron bar thrustinto a jar maketh the water therein hot, even so doth mental grief bringon bodily agony. And as water quencheth fire, so doth true knowledgeallay mental disquietude. And the mind attaining ease, the body findethease also. It seemeth that affection is the root of all mental sorrow. Itis affection that maketh every creature miserable and bringeth on everykind of woe. Verily affection is the root of all misery and of all fear,of joy and grief of every kind of pain. From affection spring allpurposes, and it is from affection that spring the love of worldly goods!Both of these (latter) are sources of evil, though the first (ourpurposes) is worse than the second. And as (a small portion of) firethrust into the hollow of a tree consumeth the tree itself to its roots,even so affection, ever so little, destroyeth both virtue and profit. Hecannot be regarded to have renounced the world who hath merely withdrawnfrom worldly possessions. He, however, who though in actual contact withthe world regardeth its faults, may be said to have truly renounced theworld. Freed from every evil passion, soul dependent on nothing with sucha one hath truly renounced the world. Therefore, should no one seek toplace his affections on either friends or the wealth he hath earned. Andso should affection for one’s own person be extinguished by knowledge.Like the lotus-leaf that is never drenched by water, the souls of mencapable of distinguishing between the ephemeral and the everlasting, ofmen devoted to the pursuit of the eternal, conversant with the scripturesand purified by knowledge, can never be moved by affection. The man thatis influenced by affection is tortured by desire; and from the desirethat springeth up in his heart his thirst for worldly possessionsincreaseth. Verily, this thirst is sinful and is regarded as the sourceof all anxieties. It is this terrible thirst, fraught with sin thatleaneth unto unrighteous acts. Those find happiness that can renouncethis thirst, which can never be renounced by the wicked, which decayethnot with the decay of the body, and which is truly a fatal disease! Ithath neither beginning nor end. Dwelling within the heart, it destroyethcreatures, like a fire of incorporeal origin. And as a faggot of wood isconsumed by the fire that is fed by itself, even so doth a person ofimpure soul find destruction from the covetousness born of his heart. Andas creatures endued with life have ever a dread of death, so men ofwealth are in constant apprehension of the king and the thief, of waterand fire and even of their relatives. And as a morsel of meat, if in air,may be devoured by birds; if on ground by beasts of prey; and if in waterby the fishes; even so is the man of wealth exposed to dangers whereverhe may be. To many the wealth they own is their bane, and he thatbeholding happiness in wealth becometh wedded to it, knoweth not truehappiness. And hence accession of wealth is viewed as that whichincreaseth covetousness and folly. Wealth alone is the root ofniggardliness and boastfulness, pride and fear and anxiety! These are themiseries of men that the wise see in riches! Men undergo infinitemiseries in the acquisition and retention of wealth. Its expenditure alsois fraught with grief. Nay, sometimes, life itself is lost for the sakeof wealth! The abandonment of wealth produces misery, and even they thatare cherished by one’s wealth become enemies for the sake of that wealth!When, therefore, the possession of wealth is fraught with such misery,one should not mind its loss. It is the ignorant alone who arediscontented. The wise, however, are always content. The thirst of wealthcan never be assuaged. Contentment is the highest happiness; therefore,it is, that the wise regard contentment as the highest object of pursuit.The wise knowing the instability of youth and beauty, of life andtreasure-hoards, of prosperity and the company of the loved ones, nevercovet them. Therefore, one should refrain from the acquisition of wealth,bearing the pain incident to it. None that is rich free from trouble, andit is for this that the virtuous applaud them that are free from thedesire of wealth. And as regards those that pursue wealth for purposes ofvirtue, it is better for them to refrain altogether from such pursuit,for, surely, it is better not to touch mire at all than to wash it offafter having been besmeared with it. And, O Yudhishthira, it behoveththee not to covet anything! And if thou wouldst have virtue, emancipatethyself from desire of worldly possessions!’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O Brahmana, this my desire of wealth is not forenjoying it when obtained. It is only for the support of the Brahmanasthat I desire it and not because I am actuated by avarice! For whatpurpose, O Brahmana, doth one like us lead a domestic life, if he cannotcherish and support those that follow him? All creatures are seen todivide the food (they procure) amongst those that depend on them.[1] Soshould a person leading a domestic life give a share of his food to Yatisand Brahmacharins that have renounced cooking for themselves. The housesof the good men can never be in want of grass (for seat), space (forrest), water (to wash and assuage thirst), and fourthly, sweet words. Tothe weary a bed,–to one fatigued with standing, a seat,–to the thirsty,water,–and to the hungry, food should ever be given. To a guest are duepleasant looks and a cheerful heart and sweet words. The host, rising up,should advance towards the guest, offer him a seat, and duly worship him.Even this is eternal morality. They that perform not the Agnihotra[2] notwait upon bulls, nor cherish their kinsmen and guests and friends andsons and wives and servants, are consumed with sin for such neglect. Noneshould cook his food for himself alone and none should slay an animalwithout dedicating it to the gods, the pitris, and guests. Nor should oneeat of that food which hath not been duly dedicated to the gods andpitris. By scattering food on the earth, morning and evening, for (thebehoof of) dogs and Chandalas and birds, should a person perform theViswedeva sacrifice.[3] He that eateth the Vighasa, is regarded as eatingambrosia. What remaineth in a sacrifice after dedication to the gods andthe pitris is regarded as ambrosia; and what remaineth after feeding theguest is called Vighasa and is equivalent to ambrosia itself. Feeding aguest is equivalent to a sacrifice, and the pleasant looks the hostcasteth upon the guest, the attention he devoteth to him, the sweet wordsin which he addresseth him, the respect he payeth by following him, andthe food and drink with which he treateth him, are the five Dakshinas[4]in that sacrifice. He who giveth without stint food to a fatiguedwayfarer never seen before, obtaineth merit that is great, and he wholeading a domestic life, followeth such practices, acquireth religiousmerit that is said to be very great. O Brahmana, what is thy opinion onthis?”

“Saunaka said, ‘Alas, this world is full of contradictions! That whichshameth the good, gratifieth the wicked! Alas, moved by ignorance andpassion and slaves of their own senses, even fools perform many acts of(apparent merit) to gratify in after-life their appetites! With eyes openare these men led astray by their seducing senses, even as a charioteer,who hath lost his senses, by restive and wicked steeds! When any of thesix senses findeth its particular object, the desire springeth up in theheart to enjoy that particular object. And thus when one’s heartproceedeth to enjoy the objects of any particular sense a wish isentertained which in its turn giveth birth to a resolve. And finally,like unto an insect falling into a flame from love of light, the manfalleth into the fire of temptation, pierced by the shafts of the objectof enjoyment discharged by the desire constituting the seed of theresolve! And thenceforth blinded by sensual pleasure which he seekethwithout stint, and steeped in dark ignorance and folly which he mistakethfor a state of happiness, he knoweth not himself! And like unto a wheelthat is incessantly rolling, every creature, from ignorance and deed anddesire, falleth into various states in this world, wandering from onebirth to another, and rangeth the entire circle of existences from aBrahma to the point of a blade of grass, now in water, now on land, andnow against in the air!

‘This then is the career of those that are without knowledge. Listen nowto the course of the wise they that are intent on profitable virtue, andare desirous of emancipation! The Vedas enjoin act but renounce (interestin) action. Therefore, shouldst thou act, renouncing Abhimana,[5]performance of sacrifices, study (of the Vedas), gifts, penance, truth(in both speech and act), forgiveness, subduing the senses, andrenunciation of desire,–these have been declared to be the eight(cardinal) duties constituting the true path. Of these, the four firstpave the way to the world of the pitris. And these should be practisedwithout Abhimana. The four last are always observed by the pious, toattain the heaven of the gods. And the pure in spirit should ever followthese eight paths. Those who wish to subdue the world for purpose ofsalvation, should ever act fully renouncing motives, effectually subduingtheir senses, rigidly observing particular vows, devotedly serving theirpreceptors, austerely regulating their fare, diligently studying theVedas, renouncing action as mean and restraining their hearts. Byrenouncing desire and aversion the gods have attained prosperity. It isby virtue of their wealth of yoga[6] that the Rudras, and the Sadhyas,and the Adityas and the Vasus, and the twin Aswins, rule the creatures.Therefore, O son of Kunti, like unto them, do thou, O Bharata, entirelyrefraining from action with motive, strive to attain success in yoga andby ascetic austerities. Thou hast already achieved such success so far asthy debts to thy ancestors, both male and female concerned, and thatsuccess also which is derived from action (sacrifices). Do thou, forserving the regenerate ones endeavour to attain success in penances.Those that are crowned with ascetic success, can, by virtue of thatsuccess, do whatever they list; do thou, therefore, practising asceticismrealise all thy wishes.”

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